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Ahern, Bertie

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 Nbr. 4

Ceisteanna – Questions. - Departmental Estimates.

Was asked: the allocation to his Department in the spending Estimates for 2003 published recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if increases in charges to individuals, companies or groups have been sanctioned to be charged by agencies or units under the aegis of his Department; and the charges being made in absolute and in ...More Button

Was asked: the level of funding provided for the e-Government project in his Department's Estimate for 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the allocation which was made to his Department in the 2003 Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the allocation to his Department in the recently published spending Estimates for 2003.More Button

Was asked: the reason for the reduction of 14% in the allocation for the National Economic and Social Council in the Book of Estimates for 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the reason for the reduction of 34% in the allocation for the information society, e-Cabinet and other initiatives in the Book of Estimates for 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the allocation to his Department in the spending Estimates for 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, together.More Button

The abridged Estimates for public services, which were published on 14 November, include an Estimate of €23.641 million for my Department in 2003. This includes a provision of €1.65 milli...More Button

Funding for the National Economic and Social Council is provided in subhead C of my Department's Vote, which has been reduced by 14%. NESC, together with the National Economic and Social Forum and ...More Button

No increases in charges to individuals, companies or groups have been sanctioned by agencies or units under the aegis of my Department.More Button

The Estimate will be submitted to the House early next year in the usual way and will be considered by the Committee on Finance and the Public Service in accordance with the procedures set out in S...More Button

The Deputy has two questions; I will start with the second one. When the Esti mates were prepared in mid year, it was not envisaged there would be a meeting of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliatio...More Button

The figure of €700,000 for the National Forum on Europe covers the expenditure to complete the work set out by the chairman of the forum last year on two separate occasions. The forum travelle...More Button

Some €9.8 million or 68% of the budget for my Department goes on salaries and wages. There are approximately 250 people in my Department and that excludes the Offices of the Attorney General, ...More Button

I have already answered that. There are sufficient resources for the Forum on Europe to continue its work both in Dublin Castle and on a countrywide basis. Its set-up costs are not repeated. This w...More Button

With regard to the CSO allocation of more than €32 million for 2003, there is a cutback related to exceptional expenditure associated with the undertaking of the census of population. The Esti...More Button

All its normal work will proceed. Only new work will be affected. The monthly employment survey forms part of the CSO's everyday costs.More Button

There are technical issues that need to be resolved in regard to the e-Cabinet initiative, centring around the security of the system. It is not yet possible to anticipate precisely how this might ...More Button

Next year will not be a difficult year in most of the areas in the e-Government project. The project is up and running, as is the test work. Much of the expenditure in 2001 was of a substantial nat...More Button

Much of the work on broadband for the information society falls within the remit of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Dermot Ahern. There are few charges on my D...More Button

If resources were more plentiful there are many projects on which the Information Society Commission would like to make progress, some of which are more expensive than others. This year we need to ...More Button

Yes, is the answer to the latter question. The Forum on Europe will resume next year. Its work will primarily, but not exclusively, be on the convention on Europe and matters related to that. The b...More Button

Returning to the staff issue, not many individuals are involved. There are no others in my Department but if an individual is attracted from the private sector to take up work in the political syst...More Button

Among my five people, there are civil servants who receive less remuneration but one takes on the responsibilities of the job and they are not spread equally. A person who undertakes the job of pro...More Button

The secretariat of the forum is based in my Department and the practice has been that if there is a forum, such as the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, it is a function of my Department. The Dep...More Button

Ceisteanna – Questions. - Strategic Management Initiative.

Was asked: the progress made to date by the SMI implementation group of secretaries in regard to the development of a new vision statement, strategy and action programme for the modernisation of the Civil Ser...More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the recent work of the National Centre for Partnership and Performance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 10 together.More Button

An independent evaluation of the progress of the change and modernisation programme in the Civil Service was completed by PA Consulting in March 2002. The evaluation concluded that the Civil Servic...More Button

The Government noted the evaluation and asked the implementation group of Secretaries General to oversee the development of a new vision statement, strategy and action plan for the modernisation o...More Button

The steering group of assistant secretaries, which oversaw the evaluation process, has been asked by the implementation group to prepare a draft of this new vision statement, strategy and action pl...More Button

In addition, the work of the implementation group is being reflected in the management approach to the discussions with the trade unions on modernisation of the Civil Service arising from the repor...More Button

Of course, one of the key ways to deliver change and improved performance in public and private sector organisations is through partnership. The National Centre for Partnership and Performance has ...More Button

In providing practical support for organisations and companies involved in change through partnership, the centre published guidelines for the private sector in July and is currently preparing simi...More Button

In the area of policy development, the centre is currently working with IBEC and ICTU developing guidelines on employee financial involvement and new forms of financial reward. The centre has rece...More Button

The centre has a high level council and has also established two key national structures to drive its ambitious programme forward. First, the National Research Advisory Panel, comprising 23 researc...More Button

Details of these and the other activities of the NCPP are available on the centre's website. I believe that its work to date has now placed the centre in a position to make a real contribution to o...More Button

It is.More Button

I would not inflict the report on Deputy Rabbitte for his Christmas reading.More Button

I accept that much of the strategic management initiative makes heavy weather. I have been answering questions on it long enough to see that.More Button

One of the things I did as part of the PA survey last year was to try to improve alignment between SMI and the political process so that we would have some meaningful input into it.More Button

I have identified a number of areas of successful reform. For example, the use of Cabinet com mittees and the submission of strategy statements to Ministers have worked well in Departments. This ti...More Button

The last 4% pay increase was directly related to the process, which makes people interested in achieving things. The monitoring of that has still to happen, as I pointed out. An awful lot has to be...More Button

If the SMI – which is now ten years in operation – is to be successful, it has to keep changing. The technology in Departments has changed dramatically in the past ten years. Perhaps th...More Button

It must be remembered that the entire benchmarking report is linked to modernisation going forward and the involvement of people, not only in the Civil Service. The PA Consulting report was just ab...More Button

A large part of what the PA Consulting report said, in a critical way, concerned the financial management systems. It put a lot of work and effort into how Departments work the financial management...More Button

That is permitted. I do not know if the exchange mechanism came in under an early part of SMI or not, but civil servants can work in outside agencies or some people from outside agencies can work ...More Button

I agree, I think it is very small. I have been at some of the conferences of the people who work on the SMI with Departments and I know some of Deputy Rabbitte's own party's backbenchers attend som...More Button

The NCPP is engaged in an enormous amount of work, much of which is centred on the use of seminars and best practice. I have had the pleasure of opening a number of seminars within the Civil Servic...More Button

Last March the NCPP launched its operational programme and last July it set out its plans and a way for working for partnership guidance for a unionised commercial sector, which has been useful for...More Button

The centre has an ongoing bulletin and the database on best practice, to which the Deputy referred, has been established. In addition, the centre has conducted a number of focus groups covering dif...More Button

The NCPP is made up of employers, trade unions and Departments working together on these initiatives and it does much excellent work. The centre is engaged in repositioning the partnership process ...More Button

For some years the accusation was that partnership only operated at the top and not on the factory or office floor. They are making an effort now to drive through change and make the connection bet...More Button

As I said earlier in reply to Deputy Rabbitte about the PA report, one of the big parts is trying to link all this to the political process. A large part of the work of the public service is servi...More Button

Reference was made earlier to the people involved. It gives people opportunities. People from the private sector can work in and bring their expertise to the Civil Service while civil servants can ...More Button

There is much work going on in relation to SMI, customer service initiatives and various evaluations. The officials involved in one way or another in the PA report are always looking to change. The...More Button

It was not that the Civil Service had closed its mind; it wants to interact and to do things in a different way. All this work of looking for a new mission statement, strategy and action plan is so...More Button

That is true in many sectors. Five years ago I think it was true of all sectors and it is only in recent times that we have local participation. Good case studies have been documented by the trade ...More Button

I am also aware there are places which do not want these types of partnerships and I am not including them as that is a different issue. Some employments run a mile or find every excuse not to impl...More Button

Leaders' Questions.

While I am aware of and understand the reasons for not dealing with notices of sympathy today, I express my sympathy to members of the Fine Gael Party on the death of their colleague. We will retur...More Button

On the important issue raised by the Deputy, my understanding, as he will appreciate, is that the matter is being examined by the Attorney General and the Minister for the Environment and Local Gov...More Button

The Standards in Public Office Commission will also examine the Supreme Court judgment. Ultimately, it will be for it to clarify requirements in terms of the completed election statements which are...More Button

The 20 December date will come very soon. While I am not certain at this point what we can do about this date, I understand we cannot do a great deal. We cannot move the date back as a Minister can...More Button

The legal adviser to the Oireachtas is organising a briefing tomorrow for all Deputies. I will feed any information I get from the Minister or the Attorney General to the Government Chief Whip in o...More Button

We need to wait for the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment. I would not dare to interpret it myself. An interpretation will provide completion. The last thing we need is for Members to go...More Button

I accept what has been stated by Deputy Kenny. This judgment raises an enormous number of issues. Needless to say, I hold the view that all Members of this House acted in good faith on the basis of...More Button

As Deputy Kenny said, somebody is left to interpret what this means down to the last detail. That is not clear in the Supreme Court decision. We have to get somebody to interpret it. Needless to sa...More Button

I would like to think all my Ministers understand the rules of collective responsibility and thereby talk about more than their own area in support of Government policy. That is what they should be...More Button

All our sympathy goes to the family of the bereaved in the recent atrocity in Limerick. It is a tragic result of the behaviour and actions of those who operate in the gangland world. We have had ma...More Button

It is intended to implement section 10 of the road traffic Act during the first half of next year. This is not due to a lack of resources but because of the number of challenges to this area of leg...More Button

Regarding the penalty points system, a manual system is in operation for speeding offences and it will soon be brought in for the non-wearing of safety belts and later for drink-driving. Section 10...More Button

Defending and explaining Government policy is part of the duty of Ministers. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is well aware of the terrible act in Limerick and criminal activity in...More Button

Operation Freeflow commenced on 1 December and will run to 6 January in the greater Dublin area. It will attempt to assist in managing traffic congestion in the Dublin region and improve public tra...More Button

A number of initiatives have been taken in this area by an interdepartmental group over the past number of years. Some have proved to be successful while others have not. I understand from the Mini...More Button

There is also a review group on intoxicating liquor licences and it is examining the issue of licensing discotheques, halls, clubs, bars, supermarkets and off-licences to see what can be done in th...More Button

The banning of a number of these products and efforts to take them out of circulation proved not to be legal. It is not possible to do so because many of these drinks are not in themselves harmful....More Button

The Minister for Health and Children has already made his displeasure known regarding the matters raised by the Deputy, including sports advertising. I am not sure if these methods will prove succe...More Button

As the Deputy correctly says, a large part of the work of accident and emergency departments, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, centres on the effects of alcohol and drugs such ...More Button

Order of Business.

The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No.7, Motion re Referral to Select Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Convention of the Treaty on Euro...More Button

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and, subject to the agreement of No. 11, No. 12 (referral to Select Committee) shall be decided without d...More Button

The veterinary medicines Bill, which is to replace the existing legislation regulating the veterinary profession and related activities, is currently being drafted and is expected early next year.More Button

I have no list from the Minister as yet. I suggest that a parliamentary question be put down and I am sure the Minister will answer fully on the national spatial strategy.More Button

The heads of the health and social care professionals regulatory Bill have been approved. Legislation is being drafted and is expected in the middle of next year. The health insurance Bill, a short...More Button

I assume the Deputy means the work permits Bill. The heads have been approved. The legislation is being drafted and it is expected shortly.More Button

The opticians (amendment) Bill will be dealt with in this session.More Button

I will bring what the Deputy has stated to the attention of the Ministers.More Button

I do not think there is any legislation in that regard.More Button

I replied to the Deputy quite recently on that matter.More Button

(Interruptions).More Button

The heads of the Bill have been approved by Government. I understand there are 103 heads in the Bill and it is hoped that it will be ready early in 2003.More Button

The domestic violence (amendment) Bill is to respond to the recent Supreme Court decision that the provision in the Domestic Violence Acts permitting the making of interim barring orders ex part...More Button

The pharmacy Bill is to update and rationalise the Pharmacy Acts, 1875 to 1977. The Bill should be out some time next year. There is ongoing discussion with the pharmaceutical industry regarding th...More Button

The heads of the local government rates Bill are expected before Christmas and the Bill is expected to be published next year.More Button

The redundancy amendment Bill has been referred to by the Tánaiste and Minster for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. On 15 October the Government approved the drafting of the heads of the Bi...More Button

Written Answers. - Food Imports.

Was asked: the total amount of beef, chicken, fish, seafood, lamb, potatoes, fruit and other vegetables imported in 2000, 2001 and to date in 2002; the amount and country of origin in each case; and if the it...More Button

Written Answers. - Departmental Properties.

Was asked: if he will identify by location, acreage and other details, the State properties in his Department which are being considered for sale or are currently available for sale.More Button

No properties in my Department are being considered for sale or are currently available for sale.More Button